T-Mobile in Austria has developed a new service that will let businesses move their fixed-line phone to a mobile connection and retain their original number.

The Replace service will launch next week and is believed to be the first of its kind in Europe. "Many small businesses are interested in dropping their fixed-line service in favour of mobile phones, but are reluctant to do so because of losing their phone number," said a spokeswoman. "Our new service addresses this issue."

The Replace service will be available for free through to the end of the year. From January, a one-off registration fee of €50 and an additional €8 per month service charge for one number will be levied. Each additional extension number costs €4 per month.

The Replace service could soon become available in other markets, said a spokesman at the company's head office in Germany. "Because the market conditions in our various markets differ, some of our subsidiaries may be interested, others less so," he said. "But all of them will be certainly watching to see how the service take-up in Austria is."